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    Directed by



    102 min

    • Japanese


    1988. Toma, seventeen, lives in a town by a river with his father, who is engaged in some shady dealings, and his father’s mistress, Kotoko. He sometimes visits his mother, Jinko, who runs a fish shop. Toma is disgusted by his father’s activities and his daily abusive sex sessions with Kotoko but he becomes very aware of the similarities he reluctantly shares with his father when he starts dating Chigusa. One day, Toma suddenly turns violent and Chigusa leaves him. In the meantime, a typhoon approaches and floods the town, allowing Kotoko, now pregnant, to run away from Toma’s father. Enraged, the latter goes on a frantic search for his mistress only interrupted by his encounter with Chigusa, who is waiting for Toma in a shrine to make up with him.


    • Youth Jury Award for Best Film - FF Locarno
    • Bocallino Award for Best Director - FF Locarno



    Masaki Suda
    Misaki Kinoshita
    Yukiko Shinora
    Ken Mitsuishi
    Yuko Tanaka
    Shinji Aoyama
    Takahiro Imai
    Genta Tamaki
    Shinji Aoyama
    Isao Yamada

    Director's Statement

    When I read the original novel, my first reaction was "I don't want anybody else to make a movie out of this story". I smelt the fragrance of this specific land, its rural human relationship, everything in this story was related to me. Just like the author Shinya Tanaka has been the only one to write the story in this place, I believe I am the only one to make this movie and I want to make a movie quite original that can be made only by Shinji Aoyama, myself. It has been a long time since I forgot these feelings about making movies, but this time I do on this one. I am so excited.

    Shinji Aoyama

    Shinji Aoyama


    I consider myself a hollow container. That's what's most important when I make my films. I myself am empty.

    Shinji Aoyama is a Japanese film director and novelist. He graduated from Rikkyo University. He won two awards at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for his film Eureka. Shinji Aoyama was born in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture, Japan, where he attended Kitakyushu Midorigaoka public junior/senior high school. He graduated in 1989 from Rikkyo University, where he majored in film studies in the department of British and American Studies. While he was a student, he was deeply influenced by the theorist and film critic Shigehiko Hasumi, from whom he took classes. After graduating, Aoyama worked as an assistant director to Swiss independent film director Daniel Schmid, Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and others. In 1995 he made his directorial debut with the V-cinema production VERY PRIVATE LESSON, based on the manga publication of the same name. In 1996 Aoyama made HELPLESS, a film set in his native Fukuoka. His 2000 film EUREKA, also set in Fukuoka, opened at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival where it received both the FIPRESCI prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Together with the 2007 film SAD VACATION, EUREKA and Helpless comprise Aoyama’s “Kitakyushu Saga.” BACKWATER is his latest feature which premiered at Locarno IFF.

    Selected Filmography